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Speaking with Body Language: The Five Parts of Your Body Your Audience is Listening To

When you speak in public, you speak with more than your mouth. Effective public speaking isn’t only about what you’re saying, but how you say it. Public speaking anxiety can leave you looking nervous, afraid, and unprepared. Strong, confident body language is essential for a successful presentation. In the same way that users of American Sign Language portray complex thoughts and ideas with their bodies, your body language is telling your audience a story.

Here’s the parts of your body to keep in mind while speaking in public:

 

5. Back, Shoulders, and Neck

Do you remember your parents or teachers always telling you to sit up straight? Maybe they told you to stop slouching or told you to stop staring at your feet.

So take their advice. Take command of the room and your audience will pay attention. Neck, shoulders, and back all play a role in making sure you maintain an assertive stance for your viewers.

 

4. Hands

How you use your hands will vary with the type of speech. Nervous fidgeting is a no-no. If you’re giving a more stern, professional presentation, a confident grasp on the lectern will do. For more high energy presentations, use your hands to convey ideas. If you’re discussing raising sales, a short gesture upwards will do. Hands can also identify board points or audience members with questions.

But don’t overdo it! High energy is great, but crazy, frantic, or too fast and you may lose your audience.

 


3. Eyes

They say the eyes are the window to the soul. Do you want people to see someone scared and anxious, or do you want them to see a persuasive, inspiring leader?

Nervous blinking, frantic gazing, and wide-eyed fear are common symptoms of public speaking anxiety.

Use your eyes to convey tone and emotion. A raised eyebrow or a cleverly-timed wink can amplify a point.

Also use your eyes to identify with the audience. Great speakers can make eye contact with every viewer in the room. If the audience feels acknowledged, they’ll be more open to your words and ideas.

 

2. Feet

Be aware of and control any nervous foot-tapping that may be disruptive during your speech.

If you’re commanding a stage or a room, be sure to use those feet to move! You want to interact with your entire audience, not just those front and center.

 

1. Mouth

It’s more than just where your words come from. Don’t let your fear of public speaking lead to lip-biting, lip-licking, teeth-grinding, tongue-clicking, and other mouth- related speaking flaws.

If you’re presenting in a smaller venue, such as a small meeting, make sure you aren’t giving colleagues more than your words. Keep your spit to yourself. They came to hear you speak, not for the first row experience at SeaWorld.

If you’re keeping track of what your body is doing, you’ll be sure to keep the attention of your audience and make an inspiring impact.

 

Guest Post by Mike Jousan

Mike Jousan is an internationally recognized speaker and consultant. Since 1988 he has been leading Clear Communication Company, a consulting firm specializing in all forms of person-to-person communication. He is also the author of three books on public speaking and communication.

 

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Comments

  1. Good advice. I was at a conference years ago, managed to score a front row seat for a keynote speaker I’d been looking forward to seeing/hearing. I guess he had good things to say … all I remember now is that he kept rocking back and forth and jingling his keys in his pocket.

    • I have been part of many presentations and at times i have seen many senior professionals folding their hands or putting them in the pockets while delivering speaches. Though these are considered a no-no in the presentation coaching classes, the presenters where able to gab all that required attention and moreover they were experienced speakers.
      I find this bit strange….

  2. Mendelsohn Mabhena says:

    I was intrigued by the tips on the 5 parts of your body your audience is listening to.

  3. i was speaking at a public function but unfortunately my hands kept on shaking though people congratulated me on the stregnth of my voice, boy dont i need practice!!!!

  4. Fascinating that this topic has attracted so much discussion. Most of which I completely agree with. POSTURE is the point I want to add. If a speaker’s core posture does not support his or her gestures and body movements there will be a disconnect. Speakers need to feel an elevation or lift through their being so that their limbs and hands can be relaxed and available to move freely. How to support the core? Go to the gym, crunch, train those abs. And before even stepping on stage, feel that the spine is elongating and the crown of the head easily lifting towards the ceiling. Repeat: the crown of the head, not the chin.

  5. Lies sudianti says:

    How about overall face, because beside eyes and mouth our overall face also can represent our feeling which can be read also by the audience.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] When you speak in public, you speak with more than your mouth. Effective public speaking isn’t only about what you’re saying, but how you say it. Public speaking anxiety can leave you looking nervous, afraid, and unprepared. Strong, confident body language is essential for a successful presentation. In the same way that users of American Sign Language portray complex thoughts and ideas with their bodies, your body language is telling your audience a story. Here’s the parts of your body to keep in mind while speaking in public:  [...]

  2. [...] When you speak in public, you speak with more than your mouth. Effective public speaking isn’t only about what you’re saying, but how you say it. Public speaking anxiety can leave you looking nervous, afraid, and unprepared. Strong, confident body language is essential for a successful presentation. In the same way that users of American Sign Language portray complex thoughts and ideas with their bodies, your body language is telling your audience a story. Here’s the parts of your body to keep in mind while speaking in public:  [...]

  3. [...] now you have my eight special tips to speak with more confidence and ease. Nerves in public speaking are normal. Practicing, visualizing, breathing deeply, speaking [...]

  4. [...] are not talking of the usual body language mumbo-jumbo. Strategically refine your every body movement so that it sustains the point that you [...]

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